An 11-year-old leukemia patient whose mother unexpectedly took her from a Phoenix hospital last month is speaking out and assuring the public that she’s safe in Mexico.
“Here they are helping me a lot and I feel better,” said a bright-eyed Emily Bracamontes in a televised interview, who wore a pink cap in what appeared to be a medical facility in Mexico.
The child was previously receiving chemotherapy at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for about a month before her mother removed her Nov. 28 while she was still being treated. An infection forced physicians to amputate her right arm and insert a catheter through her chest to deliver medications.
The child’s mother removed an IV tube from the device and took her from the hospital, concerning doctors that she could succumb to a deadly infection, said police Sgt. Steve Martos.
Since then, Emily’s parents have refused to provide Arizona police any information on the girl’s whereabouts or treatment, but her mother and father have asserted in television interviews that she is under the care of doctors in Mexico. The girl recently appeared in a televised interview, the first time police have seen her since she was taken from the hospital.
Police have said Emily’s parents have previously removed her from two separate California hospitals against the advice of her treating doctors, and that the child was in “unbelievably horrible medical shape” when she arrived last month at the Phoenix facility.
Border patrol agents stopped the family’s car in October as they were crossing from Mexico to Arizona and noticed Emily appeared extremely sick. The child was immediately transported to a hospital in nearby Yuma and then flown to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
“These are some of the red flags that cause us some concern,” Martos said. “Obviously there are questions we have as to how well they have been taking care of this child.”
The mother, Norma Bracamontes, appeared with her daughter on ABC recently blaming the hospital for complications that led to her daughter’s amputation. She claims the family and Emily were being intimidated by the hospital over bills.
"Emily, you're not going to go home because your mom and dad, they haven't filled (out) all the forms, so blame them that you're going to remain here stuck in the hospital," Norma Bracamontes said hospital officials told her daughter.
Hospital spokeswoman Debra Stevens said clinical decisions are never based on ability to pay and Phoenix Children's provides services either free or at reduced rates to patients who can't afford them.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press.